This is the second part to “Greenhouse Sanctuary”.
I took the long route, wanting to prolong my arrival home for as long as I could. I could see the storm, cloud, almost seeming to chase me. Even so, I took in the feelings of the fresh autumn air; the orange leaves, the faint smell of a changing season, everything about autumn appealed to me. I took in the surroundings, blindly letting my feet guide me to my destination, wherever that may be. I silently cursed my feet when I saw that they led me to my house. I trudged begrudging up the stairs to my family’s apartment. I stopped in front of the door. Around the frame was the dirt and grime that I was used to, that was normal. The dark, deep- seated vines of a worn building, the dark colors that painted the walls after years of down pours, all of that felt familiar and welcoming to me. And yet, the door to my family’s home was so foreign. The bright white door and the sterile door knob, I almost didn’t wan to touch it. But I did. I could feel the cool steel brushing against my earthy hands as I twisted the doorknob. The bright light from the inside of the home tainted the rough gravel. I quietly stepped through the entrance trying not touch the white tiles. I cringed when I realized that my foot was pressed into the carpet. I sighed, knowing that there was nothing that I could do now. I took another step slowly, and continued the process of walking. I looked back to see that I had indeed left small footprints. The prints stood out against the sterile carpet. I knew that I would need to clean it up, and I planned to, but instead of a open hallway, I was faced with my Ma. I looked up at her silently. I moved my mouth to try and give some explanation, but nothing came out.
“Richard, please come into the living room,” Ma said. The hiss in her voice left no room for any sort of argument. Even though she didn’t even address me, but I also headed into the living room, my
head hanging low.
The room was quietly, deathly so. My Ma and Pa sat on the other side of the living room. Pa was sitting; his business suit jacket that he normally hung on the hook right beside our door was lying on the couch. Ma was on the other side of the jacket, her legs neatly folded; right over the left. Her arms were crossed. Unlike Pa, she was staring right at me. It felt like her gaze was burning a hole in me as I sat on the carpet. I glance to the right to try and steady my nerves. I kept my eyes trained on the tall glass doors, the gateway to our balcony. The once warm orange glow of an autumn day has withered to a dreary gray color. It makes the whit of our living room too bright, too clean. I can’t stand it.
Then the interrogation began. They knew that I was the one who had left the prints on the floor. It couldn’t have been anyone else. I have no siblings, and my best friend was never allowed to come to the house. I knew that Pa just wanted to hear me say it, to apologize. But Ma didn’t want any of that. She hated that I had, yet again, stained her home. My small prints on the sterile carpet were a reminder that Ma’s home could never stay perfect. Perfect, was that a word that could describe this place? The walls; that should have had family portraits or some sort of decorations that showed that there were actual people living within them, were a eye burning white. Everything in the home was a sterile white.
Once my punishment, a whole week sentence to my room, I went to the bathroom to wash my feet and to get the cleaning supplies from underneath the sink. I got on my hands and knees and began the process of cleaning the carpet. It would have been a quick process, had it not been for Ma standing over me, making me use more and more bleach. My footprints weren’t visible after a few scrubs, but Ma insisted that it was still dirty. I scrubbed faster until I felt a slight burn in my forearms. I stopped with a heavy breath. The spot now looked like the rest of the carpet, sterile. Ma was smiling, but not at me. Her world was once again, perfect. I stood and went to my room, my white- walled prison.
For the past three days, I did as my Ma and Pa said. I went to school and came straight back, no detours. Occasionally, I would look down the route that I normally took to my special hideout. I could feel the urge to have my feet pressed into the ground, without these intrusive shoes. But I withheld, and
would walk home. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. I could feel see the orange autumn light flood my room with color. The once, plain white walls were now painted with oranges and yellows. I crossed the room and stopped once I reached the window. Wanting to feel more of the colors, I opened the window. It wasn’t enough. I poked my head out. The pipes that fed water into the multiple apartments were thankfully close to my window. I could easily slip out. I just needed to get my shoes, so as not to track any of the lively nature in the apartment. Unfortunately, my shoes were by the front door. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I needed to feel something under my feet besides the sterile carpet. Carefully, I grabbed hold of the top part of my window and hoisted myself out. I felt a shiver of happiness when my feet brushed against the rustic pipes. I slid done carefully. Once I was standing on the ground, I couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across my face. I ran. I skipped. I twirled. I was on my way to the place most familiar to me. My feet took control, while my mind took in the scents and pictures of autumn.
Once I reached my destination, I was out of breath. I let my eyes scan the abandoned greenhouse. The steel planes of the greenhouse were now a dull mixture of gray and brown. I walked up the small hill that led to the front. There was no door and it was easy to slip inside. I looked around, and easily found the spot that I loved to sit. It was a small bench, that was most likely set there for the gardeners to rest and admire their work. Sitting down, I tilted back my head to get a feel of my surroundings. Leaning against the glass that was once used as insulation felt soothing against my back. Even through my T- shirt, I could feel the warmth of the autumn sun caressing my back. The glass kept the sun from being too hot, since it was once used to incubate a variety of plants and flowers. Even so, I could feel beads of condensation slowly gliding down my back, and pooling at the glass edge. The combination of the warm sun and the cool beads of water left me feeling comfortable; so much so that it was always easy for me to stay in this spot for hours on end. I could feel the warmth that pooled into the abandoned greenhouse through the areas that were now vacant due to their lack of glass. A vibrant deep yellow illuminated the dark area, making square patterns due to the wooden frames. The sun that
leaked through the vacant windows felt like gentle warm hands that were caressing my arms. I could see the small specks of dust that seemed to slowly dance around each other.
The thick smell of greenery wasn’t overwhelming to my ten- year old nose. The vines that twisted around the old wooden beams made the smell of grass waft throughout the abandoned green house. There were even some vines that twisted around the wooden beam that once held the same glass that I was currently leaning against. I could feel them tickling against my skin, their smooth edges gently brushing up against me. The leaves of the vines felt damp, yet smooth. Due to the sun light that poured into the greenhouse, some of the leaves had an orange- yellow highlight that beamed brightly in contrast to the deep green. Everything was so familiar, so comfortable. I was finally comfortable.